IRL: Panther, Menard busy with testing at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002 -- Two-time defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. returned to the site of his 2002 championship victory for a full day of testing Nov. 21 at Texas Motor Speedway. 1998 Texas winner Billy...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002 -- Two-time defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. returned to the site of his 2002 championship victory for a full day of testing Nov. 21 at Texas Motor Speedway.

1998 Texas winner Billy Boat joined Hornish in testing with Pennzoil Panther Racing on the 1.5-mile oval. Also testing was the Team Menard duo of Jaques Lazier and Vitor Meira.

Hornish spent his day working on the new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 engine that will make its competitive debut in March at the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hornish drove the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther 2002 entry specially fitted for the new engine.

"Everything went pretty smooth," Hornish said. "We worked all day checking the reliability of the engine, getting more time on the engine, knowing what it is capable of, what it is going to do. We just need to keep ticking away at it.

"It is typical testing, go out for 10 laps and go as fast as you can, come in and check everything over. We made a couple of small changes with the chassis to be able to find some things for next year when we come back here to race. All in all, it has been a pretty smooth test."

Lazier continued his comeback from back injuries suffered in a racing crash in April 2002 at Nazareth, Pa. He turned laps in the No. 2 Team Menard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry.

"Basically, today we were running a lot of full-fuel loads, doing some different mapping as well as some electronic work," Lazier said. "We are very, very happy with what we did today, we ran some good times. On top of that, we accomplished a lot with GM, and I think everyone is on the same page. It is a very exciting time right now.

"I really needed this test. I feel that I am back at 100 percent; I'm excited to be back and have the same enthusiasm that I had before. I couldn't wait to get back. There was still a little worry about my back, is a bump going to hurt? But that is all behind me now.

"I'm ready to go forward for Team Menard, Johns Manville and am confident with the GM package that has been put together. I think the 2003 season is going to be a good year for us."

Boat and Meira tested Firestone tires during the day.

"I want to thank Panther Racing for the opportunity to come out here and get some laps in and do some testing for Firestone," Boat said. "It's a great advantage as a driver to be able to run more laps, and being able to test with Firestone is a great opportunity.

"Firestone has a great tire. We're just trying to fine tune it and see if there are different things we can do to the tire to make it better, make it more consistent and more durable. We've tried a lot of things today and found several that have improved the performance."

Said Meira: "We went through 14 or 15 sets of tires with the Firestone crew today. We did about 200 laps, quite a few laps for the day. Today was a very good day. We learned a lot."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Jaques Lazier  , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing